Most gamers probably know Hideo Kojima as the father of Metal Gear Solid, and more recently as the father of whatever the heck Death Stranding is going to be. However, not many people know that after he released the first Metal Gear game, he went on to create an incredibly unique adventure game called Snatcher. Snatcher was essentially a point-and-click adventure game converted onto a console that almost entirely consisted of 80’s movie references. More importantly, much of Metal Gear Solid’s story is based on many of the themes, locations, and people found within Snatcher. Kojima later went on to create Policenauts, another equally crazy adventure game for the PlayStation about retired police officers from space that unfortunately never found its way over in the West (at least until a recent fan translation was released).
The reason I bring these two games up is because they featured a very unique style of game. The style in question is a mix between visual novel and puzzle game, and is exactly that which Midboss’ 2064: Read Only Memories is entirely based on. Obviously, there were other games that presented this style of game, like Gabriel Knight or The Silver Case, but Snatcher is the one that I personally grew up with. Naturally, I am interested to see if Read Only Memories lives up to its pedigree.
Hayden Webber, a prominent computer engineer and your friend, has been kidnapped and you are the only one willing to look for him. Joining you is Turing, a ROM, or Relationship Organizational Manager, who just happens to be the very first ever sapient machine created by Webber. The story isn’t exactly going to win any prizes, but the world you explore is nothing short of incredible. Your investigation will bring you all over the city of Neo San Francisco as you solve puzzles, fight baddies, and meet and converse with a multitude of interesting characters.
These characters actually represent the biggest, and probably most important theme that Read Only Memories is trying to convey. Neo San Francisco is a city in which people can augment themselves in any way whatsoever. In fact, it is a major plot point that the country is up in arms over whether or not augmenting yourself destroys your own humanity. Some folks may give themselves cat ears for fun, while others augment themselves in ways to save their lives. You will meet characters who are for and against this, and the developer actually does an awesome job of making it completely ambiguous on whether or not you should agree with one person or another. It’s a player-based morality that the game actually does reflect in small ways based on how you talk to these people and understand their own individual quirk.
Gameplay-wise, expect to be clicking on everything and talking to everyone. Read Only Memories does not try to hide the fact that it is a story-driven game. Even the challenges you are presented with are never particularly difficult. While some dialogue is optional, most of your progression in the game is made by exhausting all of the topics in conversation with important characters that your map diligently tells you to visit. You will likely find yourself enjoying doing so, however, as most of the characters are a delight to talk to and feature their own unique personalities and great writing. Even some of the optional conversations, like discovering Turing’s deep-seated love for Bob Ross and how she downloaded and stored every single episode of The Joy of Painting, are just lovely to read.
Being a point-and-click adventure game, there are some puzzles to contend with, though they are usually very self-contained within the location you find them. You’re never going to have to find a rubber chicken with a pulley in it or collect acid at the beginning of the game and save it until the very end. In fact, whenever there is a puzzle to contend with, Turing will often railroad you into the solution, ensuring you are never stuck for long. Outside of puzzles there is also combat, though it happens pretty rarely. The combat is completely lifted from Snatcher, where you are essentially playing a game of whack-a-mole. You are given a 9×9 grid and enemies seemingly appear at random in each spot at which point you promptly shoot them. Basically, Read Only Memories is not a particularly hard game to complete, but it is fun for what it is.
Now, at this point, you may be wondering why I’m reviewing a near-two-year-old game. That’s because a brand new update has been released that changes everything up. The 2064 update completely revitalizes the game by rewriting some of the dialogue, changing up the original puzzles, and most notably adding voice acting. While the most well-known voice actor you will find here is probably Dave Fennoy as the narrator, you are likely to find someone from popular internet culture that you love. Everyone from YouTube musician Nathan Sharp to Giant Bomb’s Dan Ryckert makes an appearance in this game now. If there are any other Snatcher fans out there, Jeff Lupetin, Gillian Seed himself, even shows up at one point. Unfortunately, the inclusion of some people who aren’t actually voice actors might make some of the dialogue seem a little awkward, but it is still really cool to see all of these people come together in support of this game.
Ultimately, 2064: Read Only Memories is a competent and solid love letter to games like Snatcher and Policenauts. I would have loved to see more challenge in its gameplay, and perhaps more development in the overall story. But, what we have here is a wonderfully written visual novel about being who you want to be. Anyone looking for a nice and uplifting read should definitely check this one out.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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